16 Days Against Violence - End Sexual Violence Against Women Protesters
For months now, women in Iran have been protesting oppression, violence, violation of bodily autonomy and systematic discrimination. By chanting “woman, life, freedom”, Iranian women have started a feminist revolution.
But women’s bodies are being used to repress, punish, and silence them, in these protests which are by and for women. Numerous reports indicate sexual violence is being widely used against women protesters on the streets or in detention.
Several videos and images depicting use of sexual violence by security forces against women protesters have gone viral.
Some women released from prison, have also reported experiencing different forms of sexual violence, during interrogation and detention.
Reports published on October 17, 2022, and later picked up by CNN, told the story of 22-year-old Armita Abbasi who was arrested at a protest. She had been transferred to hospital and then back to prison by security forces, with clear signs of having suffered violent sexual assault.
The CNN report also indicated that “boys and girls detained in Iran have been subjected to sexual violence” and in some cases they have been raped in prison.
An Iranian journalist published screenshots of his conversation with a young girl who was arrested in a city near Tehran and was forced to have sex with the security agent in order to be released.
Following these reports, students during protests in universities, highlighted the use of sexual violence against detainees by chanting “rape in prison, is this allowed in the Quran?”
Protesters have also chanted slogans against efforts by state officials to depict women protesters, as sexually loose and immoral. One chant turns the tables by saying: “you are lewd and depraved! I am a free woman!”
A group of Iranian feminists in diaspora protested the use of sexual violence against protesters by performing and singing the Persian version of the famous Chilean feminist song “A Rapist in Your Path”.
Sexual violence has historically been used as a tool to suppress, silence, and marginalize women’s voices.
During the Egyptian revolution, several female protesters faced sexual assault and rape. These attacks on women were so severe that civil groups and activists formed rescue groups to protect women in demonstrations.
Femena strongly condemns the use of sexual violence against protesters and calls for fair, unbiased investigation into these crimes.